A Q&A with OpenBiome, from the Power of Poop

Our team spoke with Tracy Mac, editor of The Power of Poop, a website that provides resources about fecal transplants "for patients, by patients."  We discussed the origins of OpenBiome, our progress to date, and questions of regulation, safety, efficacy, and research, among others. Here is an excerpt:

US hospitals can now purchase pre-screened frozen fecal microbiota to treat patients with Clostridium difficile. While others have been ignoring the C diff problem, complaining about bureaucracy or lamenting the fact that there’s not enough money in fecal transplants, OpenBiome have been quietly going about fixing the problem.

Q: You mention on your site that one of your family members went through the C diff ordeal. What made you take action – as opposed to just sitting around complaining about it?

A: We couldn’t believe how hard it was for our friend to get treatment given the simplicity of the procedure and the strong clinical evidence supporting its efficacy. He suffered for many months while waiting for a treatment that should have been easy for any gastroenterologist to provide. Thousands are dying and many more are suffering needlessly because this treatment is not yet available for them. So we started off with a feeling that there was a huge problem that needed to be solved. We think everyone who has been involved in FMT has seen that.

In our case we also have had the good fortune of having access to a lot of resources and support at MIT. It’s really an extraordinary place with tremendous resources for biotechnology entrepreneurship. One of our team, Mark Smith, has been deeply involved in microbiome research for many years as a PhD student at MIT. As a result, he was familiar with the technical requirements for implementing our vision and was well positioned to bring together the necessary resources. 

Read the full Q&A here.